Drinking and driving

More than 17.400 people were injured in so-called alcohol accidents in Germany in 2019. 228 people died. That is 7.5 percent of all fatally injured road users.

Even small amounts of alcohol have a fatal effect on the ability to drive. Therefore, a simple rule applies when you are driving a car, riding a motorcycle, an e-scooter or a bicycle: No alcohol in road traffic!

Alcohol impairs fitness to drive

While you may feel you are still fit to drive after a glass of wine or two bottles of beer, this impression is deceptive. Because alcohol acts like a narcotic in the body. And the more alcohol you consume, the more noticeable the consequences:

  • Already from approx. 0.3 per mille causes a loss of vision – especially at dusk – and coordination of movement. It also decreases resistance to further alcohol consumption.
  • From approx. 0.5 per mille, the ability to react decreases, speeds are misjudged, the willingness to take risks is increased.
  • At around 0.8 per mille, the reaction speed is significantly slowed down. Symptoms of fatigue and concentration problems occur – similar to those after a night without sleep.

By the way, 0.3 per mille is reached quickly:

  • 60 kg woman with about 0.1 l of wine or 0.3 l of beer
  • 80 kg man about with 0.2 l of wine or 0.5 l of beer

Using our per mille calculator, you can find out more precisely how much alcohol you have in your blood after consuming alcoholic beverages and how different per mille levels affect the body.

What alcohol limits apply in road traffic?

Drinking and driving

The combination of alcohol and active participation in road traffic can be punishable by law from as low as 0.3 per mille. In some cases, even under 0.3 per mille, the driver is partially to blame. Namely, when someone causes an accident and has demonstrably drunk alcohol beforehand. In addition, there are further per mille limits that are punished with fines, entries in the central traffic register in Flensburg, driving license revocation or even imprisonment. Repeat offenders are generally punished more severely.

Zero alcohol limit for novice drivers

Since 2007, the zero alcohol limit has been in effect for novice drivers in the two-year probationary period and for people up to 21 years of age. Drinking and driving is therefore taboo for this group of people by law. The legislator introduced this rule because young people are comparatively often involved in traffic accidents under the influence of alcohol. If the police detect an alcohol level of up to 0.5 per mille during a breathalyzer check, this is considered a misdemeanor with:

  • Fine of 250 Euro
  • 1 point in the Flensburg Central Register
  • possibly. further conditions, for example, participation in an advanced seminar for which a fee is charged

If you show additional signs of unsafe driving or have an accident, you will face much higher penalties.

0.3 per mille limit

From 0.3 per mille, which can already be reached by drinking one beer (0.33 l), it is assumed that you are "relatively unfit to drive". If you show no signs of unsafe driving, this is not a criminal offense.

If you drive in a conspicuous manner, such as serpentines, or if you cause an accident, you can expect to be convicted of reckless driving:

  • Fines or imprisonment
  • Driving license suspension for at least 6 months
  • 3 points in the Flensburg central traffic register

0.5 alcohol limit

If the police catch you driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.5 per mille or more, this is considered an administrative offense and is punished to varying degrees:

  • First offense: 500 Euro fine, 2 points, 1 month driving ban
  • Second offense: 1000 Euro fine, 2 points, 3 months driving ban
  • Further violation: 1500 Euro fine, 2 points, 3 months driving ban

If an accident occurs, you will face more far-reaching consequences such as license revocation and imprisonment. The risk of causing an accident is about twice as high as when sober.

1.1 alcohol limit

From 1.1 per mille the so-called "absolute driving incapacity" is reached. The probability of causing an accident is ten times higher than under sober conditions. In any case, there will be a criminal prosecution, even if there is no driving error or accident.

  • A fine or imprisonment of up to 5 years may be imposed.
  • Having your driver’s license revoked for a period of time ranging from 6 months to 5 years or even permanently.
  • 3 points are registered in Flensburg.

1.6 alcohol limit

From 1.6 per mille, a medical-psychological examination (MPU) takes place in addition to the sanctions mentioned under "1.1 per mille limit", as chronic alcohol abuse is very likely to be present.

Bicycle blood alcohol limit

Drinking and driving

No drinking and driving – everyone knows that. That’s why many people use the good old bike to go to the pub, beer garden or garden party. You think that you can now drink alcohol unhindered? A fallacy.

On the bike (as well as on the e-scooter) the same blood alcohol limits apply as in the car. According to the Criminal Code, anyone who is "unable to drive a vehicle safely in traffic as a result of drinking alcoholic beverages or other intoxicating substances is punished". A bicycle is also a vehicle. So if you endanger traffic or cause an accident as a cyclist under the influence of alcohol, you are just as liable to prosecution as if you were driving a car.

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